The Super Bowl – A summary by an Indian viewer

Super Bowl LI – The Hype

After years of letting it pass by, I finally hopped on the hype train that is the Super Bowl. Though I was not entirely familiar with the rules of the game, nor will I ever be satisfied with any justification of it being called ‘Football’, I was keen on experiencing this so-called mega event of the year on the other side of the world.

After the compulsory morning brew, I was going through my Twitter feed in the wee hours, and this is what I saw.

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois played a game in London on Saturday, and on Sunday night he was in Houston, Texas to watch the game!

(If you scroll down his timeline, you will see he even attended the New York Nicks vs Cleveland Cavaliers game on Saturday night, the night after the Arsenal game!)

So was this guy!

Even the Pope had a message for the Super Bowl, which was played on the huge screen at the NRG Stadium.

 

It reaffirmed my impression, that the Super Bowl, despite being a domestic game, was a world event.

The first image I saw on my TV screen was of the Former President of the United States, George H.W. Bush doing the coin toss. I could never imagine a former President of India doing the coin toss in an Indian Premier League or Ranji Trophy Final. It gives you an indication of how big this event is for the nation itself. They call it a National Holiday!

The Half-Time Show

If those factors weren’t enough, The Half-Time Show took it to a new level.

At the half-time of the FIFA World Cup, you would probably be watching pundits discussing tactics. This would hold true for a cricket World Cup final as well.

But this was magnificent!

As the lights dimmed, the shot cut to Lady Gaga standing on the roof of the stadium singing ‘This Land is your land, this land is my land’. In the background, there were drones in the sky, lighting up in perfect sync, changing colours from blue to red to white.

She made an entrance by diving from the roof-top, suspended by cables! She landed on an elevated stage, performed a song, and again jumped down towards the main stage! She entertained the crowd for nearly 14 minutes, performing some of her biggest hits, of course with many fans dancing to the music. The final act – she dropped the mike, caught a football and dived into the crowd!

Comparison to Wrestlemania, UFC PPV for an Indian viewer

Put this event alongside WWE’s biggest event of the year Wrestlemania, or UFC’s major PPV e.g UFC 205 in 2016, the Super Bowl would rank higher for a fan in the States. While Wrestlemania does have the occasional celebrity making an appearance (Donald Trump *winks*), it does not have the combined star power that a Super Bowl attracts.

I am not sure whether it will match up as a big event for the casual Indian viewer.

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The WWE has a huge fan base in India. The UFC is slowly establishing its own base too – I did observe that when Conor McGregor won the lightweight title in 2016, a couple of major papers covered the story in India.

It may take a spectacular achievement such as McGregor’s to make the mainstream headlines in India, which I think it might for Super Bowl LI.  The Lady Gaga performance will certainly be mentioned!

Game highlights:

Unlike Rugby, there are lot of stoppages in this sport. Time-outs, fouls (the referees throw a yellow flag on the ground if they observe one) and video referrals are understandable, but there are in-game stoppages like 1st down, 2nd down and so forth. A casual viewer would feel that there is no flow in the game.

On the flip-side though, you can observe a lot of work is done behind the scenes by the coaches. They have tactics, trick-plays, and stats compiled together in several sheets. The game may not be action-packed for the full sixty minutes, but you do see some glimpses of super-human effort on the field.

Despite my reservations about the sport (and its name), the game was a thriller. The Atlanta Falcons dominated the first three quarters of the game, leading 28 – 9 with only 15 minutes left in the game. But the New England Patriots made a spectacular comeback, scoring three touchdowns and two 2-point conversions to tie the score. A touchdown in over-time, gave the Patriots a win and their fifth Super Bowl title.

Will I wake up for it next year?

At the start of the day, I saw a great game which had some unreal moments. Judging by the buzz over the final few minutes, it is going to go down in history as one of the greatest comebacks in a final of a major tournament.

It may not be the same next year, but I do believe that if you love sport in general, you should give this event a try. Sorry, a touchdown!

For Super Bowl LII, I’m in!

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